We went to the playground to meet up with my sister and her kids recently. Wally, Vivvi, and I got there a little early and played for a little on the lower “big kids playground” before heading up to a playground meant for younger kids. We had to scale a landscaped step that was about 3 feet high. I gave Vivvi a boost and Wally followed behind. Then the kids sat by me on a bench to have a snack. It was only then, after 15 minutes of playground play and the short trek (with a 3 foot wall to jump, remember?) that I noticed something strange about Wally’s pants. They were hanging a little low…and actually looked flat…rectangular…wait, was that a book? I gave his lap a knock.

Book Sneak
“Wally, what’s this?” He gave me a smirk, then pulled out of his underpants…wait for it…his latest hardcover Captain Underpants book. That he had been successfully stowing away—IN HIS PANTS—for our playground trip.

“I didn’t think you’d let me bring it, so I sneaked it,” he confessed. And I fell newly into motherly, book-loving, camaraderie love with him all over again. I laughed, snapped a pic, and then took it away and told him to go play.

Book pants
My favorite time of day to be Wally’s mom is bedtime. I love him the rest of the day—in this kindergarten year he seems to have harnessed his big spirit in a way that I always expected him to during his first several years of life where he didn’t know what to do with all of his big feelings so he colicked them all over the place. This year he has more control, more understanding of how to use his powers for good. So the rest of the day I enjoy him, his ability to get our humor and laugh at funny things Vivvi says, his big creativity and ability to create worlds of play that last for hours at his Lego table. But at night, after teeth are brushed and goodnights are said, I love our bedtime reading.

Husband Wally and I used to trade kids for picture book bedtime reading, but when Wally was ready for chapter books a few years ago, he was mine–all mine. (I am tapping my fingers together and throwing my head back in an evil laugh—can you hear it?) We’ve loved some of my childhood favorites—lots of Roald Dahl, Charlotte’s Webb, The Mouse and the Motorcycle. (Just say Beverly Cleary and my heart sighs, it flutters, it becomes a glob of warm butter.) We’ve both learned some history with Jack and Annie in the Magic Treehouse. I’ve suffered through the potty talk and grossness of Captain Underpants—the first 3-4 were good, but then some of the booger monsters and topics started to make me gag. Wally and I have a hate-love relationship with these—I hate them, and he loves them so much that I can’t take them away because they’ve fueled his passion for books (see above for Exhibit A). My sister commented that the binding on them is so poor, and I pointed out that the books are probably not meant to survive the thousands of hours of paging through that the books have tolerated from our little Dav Pilkey fans. Wally Ben asked me the other day, “Is Dav Pilkey an adult?” I nodded. “Then why is he so inappropriate?” he asked, with awe and wonder.

Our latest favorites are the Scholastic Branches series, which my sister recommended to us. We have done the Dragon Masters and are currently working through the Notebook of Doom. Both of these series offer entertaining, interesting, appropriate (!) stories and pictures that give just enough context that Wally already knows what happens in all of them before we start. As a polite reader, he refrains from telling me, so I can enjoy the suspense—because I truly care to know what will happen to the balloon goons or fish-breathed professor (who I suspect currently is actually a fish). I say this in jest, but a small part of me was sad when Husband Wally had to do the reading a few nights ago and I missed it. I just may read what I missed privately before Wally and I continue with the story.

Reading

Husband Wally has decided to try Dragon Masters with Vivvi, and he is discovering how fun working your way through a chapter book can be. He is experiencing what happens when you start reading longer books with a child—a surprise at how much of the story the child seems to comprehend. If you’re lucky enough to choose a good book, you get a story well told. And you get a little delight in making progress, a sense that you’re getting somewhere, working your way toward the accomplishment of a finished book. (Wally Ben and I always get to the end faster than I anticipate, likely due to the fact that I am a sucker for his inevitable pleading for “one more chapter,” until around the third time he makes the request. We are both highly aware of my sucker-y-ness, though, so I usually say I am done around 3 chapters before I am done, and he wields his “one more chapter,” cry the appropriate amount of times, and we are both happy.)

With all of that said, I’m excited for summer, and for summer reading. We signed up for our library’s summer reading program last year, and they showered us with books and gifts and coupons and prizes, and we will be doing that again. The Bookstore by us also has a reading program where a child reads 10 books and gets to come in to get a free book. And Meatheads recently hosted a bunch of bloggers for a lunch to talk about their summer reading program, in which any child 13 and under reads 5 books and they get a free Lil Meathead burger. (Certificate here!) At Meatheads they showered us with burgers and fries and told us about this voracious reading program, and at for all of these programs I feel so cup-overflow-y for being rewarded for something that we love to do anyway.

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I guess my point is that I love reading, and I’m so glad to share that with my kids—I’m also so glad that they will be rewarded to richly for doing this thing that has been such a big thing in my life.

And because I love reading so much, and Meatheads for their Cajun Sunrise—my favorite burger with an egg on it, and because I love you all for sticking with me and reading what I think about things (which I mostly figure out as I’m writing, by the way, so thank you for humoring me as I figure things out), I am going to share some of Meatheads love! I’ll be doing a random drawing for a $25 gift card to Meatheads for people who sign up for my eList in the next 2 weeks. I’ll gather all recent posts into an email one time per month. So join the Meet The Otts eList by June 20, 2016 for some monthly fun, and perhaps for some free Meatheads also!

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